music mondays: jenny lewis

Like many fans of Jenny Lewis, I’ve admired her for awhile. I listened to Rilo Kiley back in high school and college, then only sort of paid attention to Jenny and Johnny. Her last solo album came out in 2008, so The Voyager is a welcome treat for her fans. Admittedly, I’m predisposed to like (love?) this album. It was produced by Ryan Adams, the single “Just One of the Guys” is a collab with Beck, and her rainbow suit is fucking rad.

jenny

Lewis really succeeds as a storyteller on The Voyager. She takes us on a journey as she sings about break-ups, adulthood, romantic mistakes, and even saying goodbye to her dying and once estranged father.

The star-studded and hilarious music video for “Just One of the Guys” masks the darker and somber tone of the track. Lewis sings, “When I look at myself all I can see / I’m just another lady without a baby”, a sentiment I’m sure many of my single friends have felt as our newsfeeds fill up with more and more photos of babies.

The album’s title and closing track is another that really shines. The backing vocals are provided by First Aid Kit (who also have a great new album out) and really help to fill out the song. I would love to see a Jenny Lewis + First Aid Kit tour.

I’m having a love/hate relationship with “She’s Not Me”. I like the track overall, but something in the melody kept reminding me of some other song. Eventually I realized it was the terrible song “Cruisin” from the equally terrible Gwyneth Paltrow movie Duets. Ach. Maybe a bit of a stretch, but I can’t help what my ears hear.

Overall, really enjoying these new tracks from Jenny Lewis. I hope she keeps making music for a long time. The Voyager is out tomorrow.

breaking the cycle: post 2, working women

As you all (should) know, the tech world is incredibly dominated by men. (More specifically, by white men.) I work for a software company that employs around 13,000 people worldwide. There are about 100 people in my office; 11 are women. Of those 11, only one is actually a software developer.

I was recently a “groomsperson” in one of my best friend’s weddings. I was so happy to be a part of his wedding, even though it seemed unusual to plenty of people that I, a woman, would be standing on the groom’s side. A couple weeks before the wedding, I was out to lunch with a big group of coworkers. As people shared their weekend plans, I mentioned that I was going to a bachelor party. “No, not bachelorETTE, a bachelor party, I’m a groomsperson in my friend’s wedding.” My casual addition to the conversation was met with laughter and jokes from my male coworkers, insinuating that if I was going to a bachelor party, it could only be as a stripper.

In the moment, I laughed and didn’t think much of it, happy to just be joking around with coworkers. But looking back, I wasn’t being treated as “one of the guys” in that moment. I was being singled out for my woman-ness. To be very reductive, I was essentially called a stripper for having a male best friend. And that is not okay.

As the Washington Post article described, nine women from the tech world came together to create this manifesto of sorts. They were tired of the treatment they, and many other women, were receiving in the tech world. So they shed some light on it. My experience in the tech world has not been as extreme as the situations they describe. Overall, I like the people I work with and I feel safe there. But I’m also fairly removed from the more “technical” side of things, as a writer.

The technical world has a clear woman problem. But women in all kinds of other jobs face similar treatment everyday. I’ve listened to friends describe their misogynistic bosses, who stare at the chests of female employees and intimidate women simply because they can. Women make up about half of the professional level workforce in America. But if you check the statistics on women holding leadership positions, the disparity is shocking.

Not only are we not getting the jobs, we’re being paid less. Under the Equal Pay Act, employers are required to give men and women equal pay if their roles are substantially the same. But women are still making only “77% of their male counterparts’ earnings” according to the White House. It makes no fucking sense that I should get paid less than my male counterpart, simply because I am a woman. And yet.

I’m a fan of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and I think Sheryl Sandberg is a boss, even though I still haven’t read Lean In yet. I loved when this ad for GoldieBlox toys aired during the Super Bowl this year. It’s good to have these girl-specific things, but how long will this have to be the way we encourage girls to pursue and succeed at traditionally male-dominated jobs? Will we reach a point in history where girls will be encouraged enough at school, at home, by mentors and neighbors, without these extra girl-specific programs?

At the root of this conversation is a necessary paradigm shift. The tech world can work on recruitment and retention of female employees, but the bigger issue is a change in thinking, one that applies across the board to women in all types of jobs. One that says women are fully valuable human beings, with the same capabilities, passion, and possibilities as men.

breaking the cycle: post 1, the female body

Preface: As you will see, I started this post over a year ago, and didn’t know quite where to go with it. After the recent tragedy at UCSB and the rape and murder of two young Indian cousins, I felt the need to revisit it. My heart has been very heavy lately as I continue to hear stories of violence and injustice against women.

Initially, I just threw down a million unorganized thoughts, anxious to get words on the page. Lucky for you, I decided to pare down that mess into a few, more focused posts. Here’s the first.

——

Like most of the world, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about violence against women, women in media, and women’s roles generally. There has been so much in the news over the past year about these topics, it’s hard to avoid thinking about. And yet, no one seems to have found a “good” solution for changing the way the world treats women, or a “good” explanation for these violent acts. Here are some of the events I’m talking about:

Malala Yousafzai Shooting

Steubenville’s Jane Doe

Ford’s Unaired Commercials

Delhi Gang Rape

I think what makes these events and this conversation the scariest is that it’s not something that is limited to one part of the world. It’s not just a small football town in Ohio, or an Arabic country, it’s all over the world. And it’s a big question to ask, “How do we break this cycle on a global level?”

People say Think Globally, Act Locally. Seems like a pretty solid belief and practice, but the issues surrounding women just being women transcend location, religion, social status, economic status, and on and on. For a paradigm shift to take place on a large scale, people have to start making changes to how they treat women in each of those respects.

The world likes to focus on the female body and sex appeal, so I’ll start there too.

I wholly believe that women were created by God to be alluring, to have appealing shapes, and just generally be attractive. So how are we supposed to move about in a world full of sexists, masochists, rapists, and still fully embrace our natural state as attractive beings? I waffle constantly between dressing out of fear for unwanted responses I may elicit and dressing out of, “Fuck you, I’m 27 and I’m wearing this because it makes me feel good.”

Elliot Rodger believed women owed him sex, and in turn, that they deserved to die for rejecting him for so long. I absolutely believe there is a mental health conversation to have regarding his actions and beliefs, but his motivations can’t be chalked up to being a depressed pathological narcissist. Because there are plenty of men with similar beliefs who continue to comment on his YouTube videos in support of his actions. Because I still get cat-called when I haven’t showered for two days and am wearing a baggy t-shirt. Because we continue to value women for their sex appeal, instead of character, business savvy, or intellect.

Forever (it seems) it has been a woman’s job to regulate a man’s sexual desires. In religious environments, that means covering yourself up. In Cosmo, that means knowing how to please your man. I say, it’s time for men to start taking some of the responsibility.

If you’re a man reading this thinking, “but I’m not a misogynist”, great, you might be right. But you must still share in the responsibility. Talk to your friends about it. Don’t let them cat-call or intimidate women, even their girlfriends. Talk to your sons about appreciating a woman’s attractiveness without demeaning her. Ask your female friends what makes them feel respected and attractive. HAVE female friends.

This is only one part of the conversation, because it’s not just wrapped up in beauty. More to come.

Further reading:

 

music mondays: chet faker and some first listens

Chet Faker‘s first full album, Built on Glass, came out last week. You probably know him for his cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”, a crowd favorite for sure.

Faker is an electronic musician with a soulful side. If you didn’t guess, his performance name is an homage to jazz musician, Chet Baker.

“1998” is my favorite track on this album.

It’s got this great beat that makes me want to dance every time I listen. After the opening verse, he repeats the same verse for about 5 minutes (they cut down for the video apparently). Some of you might find that annoying. But, if you think of Chet Faker as an electronic musician first, it makes sense that he may be less focused on lyrical content. That said, I’m sure most people can relate to his lament:

We used to be friends
We used to be inner circle
I don’t understand
What have I become to you
Take my good word
Turn it backwards
Turn your back on me
Is it absurd
For me to hurt
When everything else is fading

“To Me” is another favorite that gets more soulful. This isn’t an album with a ton of depth, but it’s got some good beats and has been fun to listen to.

NPR Music just opened up the gauntlet recently with the number of First Listens it released. You guys know I’m not generally a country music fan, but I got mad love for Dolly Parton. “Jolene” is probably one of my favorite songs of all time. Basically, Dolly can do no wrong. She’s got a pretty wide variety on Blue Smoke, too. Covers, classics, and new stuff that leans to the pop country sound of today.

I was really excited to see Lykke Li’s new album, I Never Listen, up on First Listen. I heard “No Rest For The Wicked” a couple weeks ago, and liked it immediately.

Wounded Rhymes was such a dark, powerful, slightly scandalous album, and I really enjoyed it, but am looking forward to this more familiar sound from Lykke Li. “Gunshot” is an early favorite. It has this great 80s sound that catches you off guard.

Nikki Nack, the third album from tUnE-yArDs, is out there too. I haven’t listened too closely yet to Merrill Garbus’s latest, but I expect weird, poptastic tracks with worldly influences.

Lastly, I haven’t made it to Lighght, the newest from Kishi Bashi, at all yet, but look forward to giving it a listen. If you like strings, I recommend you do as well.

Happy listening.

Update: Chet Faker was on World Cafe on April 30. I always enjoy hearing an artist talk about their music firsthand, so take a listen.

music mondays: spring sounds

IT’S FINALLY STARTING TO FEEL LIKE SPRING. I still had to scrape my windshield this morning, but it’s currently 62° and I WILL NOT be wearing a coat this evening. Take that, Mother Nature.

When spring finally starts to truly emerge, I always want something light and fun to listen to. Cue the folk pop tracks.

NPR has been streaming Nickel Creek‘s new album, so I’ve been getting my fill before it actually comes out. Really enjoying it, but I’ll save most of the Nickel Creek reviewing for after I see them in May (!!!). “Destination” is an early favorite, as well as their cover of “Hayloft”.

Mountain Man is this super folksy female trio. I’ve listened to them in the past and saw them a few years ago when they were touring with Feist as her backup singers. They wore these kinda crazy-looking long, drapey dresses and did weird hand dancing. But I liked them. So when I heard that one of the girls, Amelia, had teamed up with electronic producer, Nicholas Sanborn, I was pretty interested. Together they are Sylvan Esso and I’ve been playing these two songs on repeat lately:

The Columbus-based band Saintseneca seems perched to reach some significant indie attention levels. I’m happy to see them do well, having caught various stages of their growth. I wasn’t a big fan of Saintseneca when I first heard them four years ago. I really wanted to like them, but their sound wasn’t as dynamic then and their songs all seemed to merge together (in the bad way). NPR is also streaming their new album, Dark Arc, out tomorrow. Check out “Happy Alone”:

This last group isn’t a folk band, but they’re still providing a great soundtrack as spring tries to get sprung. A few weeks ago, I starred one of St. Paul and the Broken Bones‘s songs on a SXSW playlist, without really paying attention to who the group was. Then, as I was driving into work one morning, I heard an interview with the lead singer, Paul Janeway, and snippets of a few more tracks. I was hooked. These guys are from Alabama and make soul music that feeds my Motown-loving ears.

“Call Me” was the first song I heard.

“Broken Bones and Pocket Change” is a great example of what this band can do.

There aren’t any good videos of it, but “It’s Midnight” is a short, soulful track, and one of my favorites. St. Paul will be crooning away tomorrow night at Skully’s. I was really looking forward to seeing them at Rumba, knowing it would be an intimate show with a packed house (and cheaper beer). They quickly sold out tickets then moved the show to Skully’s to accommodate. Good for the band, a little sad for me.

Happy listening and happier spring!

 

help me name a new column

As I said in my last post, I moved recently. It was initially a pretty awful situation. I’d been living in the same house for 3 years, with two roommates, and a terrible human for a landlord. Fortunately, I could look past the landlord and really liked where I lived. We knew the landlord was selling the house and that we’d have to move out, but were expecting that to happen in the spring or summer. BUT, being a terrible human, our landlord never kept us up-to-date on the timing. So on February 1, the new landlord sent us an email saying he had closed on the house and we had 30 days to GTFO. But he was really sorry and blah blah blah.

New landlord’s nice dressing and well-groomed beard quickly lost their charm.

I was able to find a place (thanks Jackie!) in my same neighborhood. Actually, I only moved two blocks. Two blocks in the opposite direction than I would have liked, but I was in a bind. Overall, I like my place. Sure, I had to compromise on some parts because of the short notice, but I’m satisfied.

So, that’s the background info. Should also say that I’m no longer living with roommates. So far, I love living alone (I knew that I would). Now that I’m doing this new part of life, I want to document it. So I want to start a new column, like Music Mondays, devoted to living alone for the first time, and all the facets of that.

Aspects I hope to focus on:

  • encounters with neighbors
  • not being consumed by my introversion
  • being a single, 20-something white girl in a largely low-income, minority neighborhood
  • tips/tricks for hosting in a small apartment
  • sleeping through the noise of drag racing and city buses

Here’s where I need your help. I’m struggling to come up with a name for this column. I’m not sad about my situation and I don’t want some sappy title like SINGLE AND LOVING IT :)<3!!!!  or FLYING SOLO. Woof. I asked some friends for their input, and so far my favorite suggestion, from my friend Mal, is “All This Shit is Mine”. Unfortunately, that’s just too long. But it does reflect the attitude I have with this new phase: I’m a self-sustaining human and most of the time I really like my life.

Hopefully that gives you an idea. Feel free to comment with any suggestions you have. Looking forward to sharing life.

new_home

music mondays: songs of late

GUYS, IT’S 8PM AND NOT PITCH BLACK OUT. Let’s just rejoice in that quickly before moving on.

So I haven’t written in awhile, mostly because I moved recently and have been getting settled. But also because I wasn’t listening to anything I was overly excited about. But it’s time to get back into the swing of it, so here we go.

I’ve been listening to two albums on repeat lately. The first is Beck’s Morning Phase. I’ve always liked Beck, but never gave him a ton of attention in the past. That said, when an artist puts out an album after a significant period without one, I’m interested. (I know Beck released the sheet music in 2012, but that’s not a full studio album.) So I listened and liked it immediately.

It had been 6 years since Beck released his last album, Modern Guilt. During the hiatus, he had a serious back injury that prohibited him from playing guitar. Morning Phase isn’t a masterpiece 6 years in the making, or an epic redefining of an artist. But, it’s a really good, solid album.

By far, my favorite track is “Blue Moon”. The selfish, snobby part of me doesn’t want to admit that the first single from this album is my favorite, but it just is. I love when a song can trick you like “Blue Moon” does. If I’d listened to an instrumental version initially, I wouldn’t expect the sad, lonely lyrics. But it turns out to be a rather melancholy song. This balancing act of light, easy sounds with somber lyrics hooked me. Not to mention I’ll never say no to a steel guitar. Here’s the track:

The second album I’ve been listening to on repeat is Agnes Obel’s Aventine. This album came out in September, so I’m late to it, but just happy not to miss it. Obel is a Danish musician who makes beautiful music. “Dorian” is a lovely, haunting song, and my favorite track. Here’s a live version for you:

I don’t know if it’s just the Danish connection, but as I listen to this album I keep thinking she should do the score/soundtrack for a Lars von Trier film. Can’t you just picture his stirring storytelling accompanied by her looming sound?

music mondays: wedding playlists

Recently, a friend asked me to help her make a playlist for her wedding. I obliged, but don’t you bridezillas get any ideas I’M NOT HELPING ALL YOU BITCHES. So, since Monday afternoons might actually drag longer than Friday afternoons at cubelife, I started working on her playlist. And to be honest, it’s probably going to end up being very close to the playlist I would make for my own wedding. So I thought this could be a nice spin on Music Monday.

Here we go. Meaghan’s ideal(ish) wedding playlist, broken down by category:

Motown: JUST GIVE ME ALL THE MOTOWN.

Wedding classics: GIVE ME NONE OF THESE. I’m talking “Shout”, “RESPECT”, “I Hope You Dance”, that other terrible country song that every father and daughter think is “their song”. NO.

Group dance songs: HARD PASS. Okay, the only one I am willing to accept is the “Cupid Shuffle”, because you at least get to walk it out. For the inexperienced, here is a hilarious how-to video.

Slow jamz: I definitely support some slow songs at weddings, but have gone solo to enough to know how awkward it is to slowly backpedal off the dance floor and head to the bar. So slow songs will be limited to approximately 10%. And they will all be Boyz II Men.

Pop standards: MJ, Justified-era JT, Whitney, Mariah all the way.

New(ish?) pop: The likes of Robyn, Beyonce, Haim. Or whoever is New, Not Shitty pop at the time. I currently think Icona Pop’s “I Love It” is an excellent wedding song. At the wedding of one of my favorite and most kindred friends, after the wedding party was introduced, the DJ called everyone to the dance floor to get the party started right off the bat. I loved that. We danced like mad for a song, then sat back down to eat, but it certainly set the stage for the rest of the night.

Hip hop: Hip hop is kinda tough. Do you get all the edited versions of explicit songs? Just let it ride? In any case, there will be Jay-Z playing if I’m ever destined for marriage.

Indie: Like hip hop, indie stuff can be hard when it comes to weddings. These are the tracks that your family won’t know and your hip friends will love. I don’t think every song played at a wedding ought to be known by everyone. So go on and play that Fleet Foxes song that got you through a summer, or the weird French pop folk song that your college roommates always played at the end of a party.

Family/Nostalgic: I grew up on Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Neil Young, and Jackson Browne. If the older folks have to struggle though Jay-Z, Gen Y can handle some tried-and-true classics. Weddings are about families, two families coming together to make a new one, so why not honor your folks for 3 minutes.

And don’t even think about playing any country music.

This is still a work in progress, but if you want to check out the playlist, here it is: Since it is actually for a friend, none of those family songs are in, and I’ve yet to add many (any?) slow ones. So really, if you’re throwing a party this weekend, there you go.

music mondays: what’s coming in 2014

I started writing a post about Columbus band Old Hundred, but decided to stop midway and wait until they release their new album. That decision inspired this post about albums coming in 2014!

Locals:

Old Hundred is releasing a new record that I am eagerly anticipating. A music monday post will be dedicated to them once the album is available for listening.

Maria Levitov is a Columbus singer-songwriter whose music I was just introduced to. She has an album release show this Thursday, for $5, or free if you preordered the album. Check out this video for her single “Brother”:

Allyse Huey, who I’ve written about before, is releasing her first EP this June. (Now you have to release it in June, Allyse, LOL.)

Nationals:

There’s so much hip hop coming out this year: Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, and of course, the HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW ALBUM FROM OUTKAST.

Frank Ocean is picking the mic back up to deliver a follow-up to 2012’s Channel Orange. If I were Frank Ocean, I think it’d be really easy and tempting to leave Channel Orange as my one studio album and let my solo career be remembered for that. Glad he wants to keep pursuing his solo career.

Grimes is releasing her fourth album this year. I know that Grimes is not for everyone, but I’m a fan. I’m excited to see what kind of stuff she’s doing now. I recently learned that Grimes is a Dolly Parton fan, which surprised me, but makes me like her even more. In case you forgot what Grimes is about:

Robyn. Fun fact about Robyn. For my 5th grade music class talent show, I sang along to Robyn’s “Show Me Love”. Which means that I was too chicken to just sing by myself (because I can’t actually sing) but Robyn will always hold a special place in my heart. Looking forward to some more solid pop music from her.

Solange is putting out her third album some time this year. She moved to New Orleans in 2013 for her music (as she said), so I’m hoping there will be some good jazz and blues elements in her new stuff. Her video for “Losing You” remains one of my favorites.

Nickel Creek. Rumors have been circulating that Nickel Creek reunited to make another album, due out this spring. Nickel Creek was the first bluegrass/folk band that I fell in love with, so I hope the rumors are true.

Looks like 2014 might just be able to follow up the great year in music that was 2013.

Update:

I forgot to add Lost in the Trees. LITT’s third full album comes out next month, and I’m pretty interested by the changes they’ve made. This album doesn’t have the heavy strings presence that has been a major element in LITT’s sound, not to mention one of my favorite parts of this band. Like others, they are moving to a more electronic sound with this new album. For a sneak peak, check out this episode of All Songs Considered from a couple weeks ago, which features one of the new tracks.

the undocumented favorite albums of 2013

Better late than never, right?

Everyone has already put out their Best of 2013 lists, and while I’m not doing that exactly, I did want to mention a few albums that I didn’t write about in 2013.

In no particular order:

London Grammar – If You Wait 

The synth-pop extraordinaires. I was a little late to this album, but am totally in love with it. I unashamedly love pop music, but top forty pop is so lacking lately, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, “Wrecking Ball” is actually a really good pop song, but because the video is now seared into my brain, I just can’t vibe with it. Anyway, for the past few years I’ve found myself moving further toward the synth end of pop. London Grammar is a British trio made of Hannah Reid, Dot Major, and Dan Rothman. If we lived in England we could call them a trip hop group, but sadly we don’t and I don’t think anyone in America uses that term.

London Grammar creates this powerful ambient sound that grows incredibly with Hannah Reid’s raspy, brooding voice. The biggest thing this album has for me is balance. It has the slow build and quietness of the xx, but the strength and complexity of Reid’s voice lifts the whole album to another level. A few favorite tracks (though I love the whole album):

  • “Strong” showcases LG’s balancing act, especially as the lyrics mention the tensions of being caught in the middle.
  • Sights” is a perfect soundtrack for winter as Reid sings, “keeping your strength when it gets dark at night”.
  • “Wasting My Young Years” is the kind of song where you go, Damn, I’m glad no one wrote this about me.
  • “Metal and Dust” does a great job exhibiting this group’s instrumentation.

And finally, Hannah Reid crushing this cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”.

Valerie June – Pushin’ Against a Stone 

The country soulstress. I realize this isn’t a country album, strictly speaking, but it’s pretty country for me. That said, I am a big Valerie June fan. There are some parts where the album gets too country for me (“Tennessee Time”) but overall I really enjoy the whole thing. Dan Auerbach co-produced the record and co-wrote some of the songs. (Sidebar: are The Black Keys over? I wouldn’t mind if Dan Auerbach just keeps producing solid records.)

Valerie June does a great job at blending many genres: blues, folk, jazz, rock, it’s all in there. And it works. It’s gonna be hard to choose only a few tracks to highlight, but here we go:

  • “Workin’ Woman Blues” is the opening track and one of my favorites. It might be because June’s lyrics feel familiar (as a working woman), but it could also just be that I fucking love when those horns come in. (Sorry for swearing. Watching Weeds and The Wire simultaneously makes me feel like a badass combination drug dealer/gangster/self destructive cop who says fuck a lot.) The music video is kinda lame, in my opinion, but don’t fault the song.
  • “Somebody To Love” is a beautiful song to break your heart.
  • “You Can’t Be Told” shows off June’s gritty, deep-down-in-your-soul sound.
  • “Pushin’ Against A Stone” is the title track, and opens with this in-your-face guitar reverb.
  • “Shotgun” is a haunting ballad that features June slaying on slide guitar. That live version isn’t great quality, but I think it’s worth seeing her perform this one.

In the year of Yeezus, I say this album has real swagger.

Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

The indie rock band has proven its worth. Not only did I have fun listening to this album, I was impressed by it. Ezra Koenig showed us he could write lyrics with depth that were littered with spiritual questions. Plus he wrote that hilarious review of Drake. Some favorites:

  • “Everlasting Arms” – This song is deceptive. It’s packaged in upbeat, poppy sounds, but the subject matter is a serious consideration of serving a master (God) and that master’s benevolence. The chorus, “Hold me in your everlasting arms” is a pretty obvious play on the hymn “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms”. Then there’s the line, “I hummed the Dies Irae as you played the Hallelujah”. The Dies Irae is a centuries old hymn about Judgment Day. Make of that what you will.
  • “Finger Back” is sort of a throwback track to me; it has that old VW sound a la “A-Punk”. And yet it still features the new contemplative Ezra Koenig as he recounts a story of an Orthodox girl who falls in love with a falafel shop employee, who we assume is not Orthodox. The Internet will suggest the employee is of Arab descent, and this song is actually about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (because, you know, the first two stanzas are obviously about torture and fighting) buuuuuut I’m not signing my name on that yet.

Overall, really enjoyed this album and applaud this band’s growth.

Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady

I was playing this album at my Halloween party and some of my friends were all, “This is weird, what is this.” So I was all, “IT’S JANELLE MONÁE, AND IT IS WEIRD AND AWESOME.” Janelle Monáe is a post-modern pop, R&B, soul sensation. My favorite track:

  • “Dance Apocalyptic” is a great example of why Monáe succeeds at being both weird and awesome. I often lament the fact that I live in a time when dancing = grinding and dance music = badly remixed pop songs. Even though the tempo is fast when compared to Motown, “Dance Apocalyptic” brings a Motown feel to the 21st Century, especially when Monáe sings, “Smash smash, bang bang / Don’t stop / Chalangalangalang”. The album version doesn’t have the apocalypse news break that the video features, but there’s an extra dose of weird for you.

My one complaint about this album is the interludes. Never been a big fan of them, and this album is already pretty long without adding three interludes. But overall, what a fun album.

Here’s hoping 2014 can be an even better year in music.